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Most shelters are happy to have volunteers come and give resident dogs attention by playing with them and grooming them. Dogs warehoused in shelters need extra attention and socializing so that they will look good to potential adopters and also will adapt better to life with people once they make it to a loving home. But there’s more to helping shelter dogs than interacting with them directly, and you may have just the talent required. Consider asking a local shelter if it needs help in any of these areas.
Social media. Are you one of those people who is good at accumulating Twitter followers or has a knack for posting things that get lots of “likes” on Facebook and Instagram? Shelters could use assistance in publicizing their cause — and in publicizing some of their individual dogs who need homes. Open-admission shelters, in particular, which may have to put down some dogs in their care for lack of space and resources to tend to them, really need people who can take flattering photos of their animals and explain their plight in a way that pulls the heartstrings.
Social media is also a useful tool at a time that a shelter might be particularly desperate for more money to adequately tend to the dogs in its care.
Computer wizardry. A lot of shelters could use help with Excel spreadsheets to keep track of the comings and goings of the animals in their care, in addition to their characteristics and needs. Some shelters even have computer-run screens in their lobbies that present dogs to potential adopters before they have a chance to go back to their cages. If you’re comfortable shooting very short videos of dogs in their best light and bringing them to the screen with tight explanations of their histories and plights, you might be just the missing link for a shelter whose aim is to move more dogs to good homes.
Event planning. Are you good with the details of who, what, when, and where? Do you know how to rally friends and neighbors? A “yes” answer means you might be able to help a shelter plan a fundraiser — a local road race, for example, or a groom-your-pet day. Events need detail-minded schedulers and manpower. If you can offer those, or just one of those, you have what it takes to help a shelter stay afloat and continue to look after dogs without permanent homes. Just inviting people to a barbecue at your home in exchange for a donation to the shelter of your choice would have significant value.
Writing. Have you been told you have a way with words? If so, you can put it to use helping to write a shelter newsletter that goes out to people digitally or via regular mail. Shelters also need help crafting convincing appeal letters.
The bottom line: It’s great to assist a shelter with the care of its dogs and the cleaning of its cages. But there are other ways you can help a shelter meet its essential needs.